Federal loophole lets interns be called highly qualified teachers
Arizona Daily Star
filed in Calif
The Associated Press
Tucson, Arizona | Published:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When Maribel Heredia's son told her that his first-grade
teacher was "going to college" and that there would be a substitute in the
classroom two days a week, she started asking questions.
did she learn that the teacher the Hayward Unified School District labeled
"highly qualified" was still a student herself.
the teacher highly qualified allows the district to meet the provisions of the
federal No Child Left Behind education law, which requires that all students be
taught by skilled teachers in core subjects such as English and math. The
district's classification is legal.
said she believes such classifications are misleading and allow districts to
place unqualified teachers in classrooms. On Tuesday, she was among a group of
parents and education advocates who sued the U.S. Department of Education over
its interpretation of what makes a highly qualified teacher.
know that they let the teachers right from college, let them take a class all by
themselves," Heredia said. "So the fact that she was considered highly
qualified, that was a shocker to me."
Petermann, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Hayward district,
declined to comment.
loophole in the law allows school districts nationwide to skirt the spirit of No
Child Left Behind, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San
Francisco. The suit claims that only teachers with full state certification
should be considered highly qualified.
did not intend that an individual with no prior training in how to teach would
be labeled 'highly qualified' on her first day in the classroom merely because
she is 'participating' in an alternative route to certification," the lawsuit
O'Connell, the state's superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement
that he was sympathetic to the parents' desire for better teachers. He also said
there are not enough highly qualified teachers in public schools serving blacks
spokeswoman for the Department of Education declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A message left by The Associated Press with the House Committee on Education and
Labor was not returned.
provision, which covers teachers in alternative certification programs, allows
more than 10,000 interns in California to be classified as highly qualified, the
Nationwide, there are tens of thousands of "highly qualified" interns in the
classroom, although there is no way to know the exact number because states are
not required to report it, said John Affeldt, managing attorney with Public
Advocates, a San Francisco law firm that is among the parties to the lawsuit.
Child Left Behind Act also requires schools that receive federal poverty funding
to notify parents when their child is taught for more than four weeks by a
teacher who is not highly qualified. Districts can skip the mandate if the
teachers are part of an alternative teacher training program.
teachers who are still studying don't like the loophole, either, and should not
be held to the same standard as teachers who have decades of experience in the
classroom, said Chelsea Byers, an intern teacher in the Oakland Unified School
District who also is labeled as highly qualified.
a California State University East Bay student who is part of the Teach for
America program, is one of two intern teachers on a staff of seven at her middle
wrong that a school district can say 100 percent of its teachers are highly
qualified, when in reality 40 percent of the teachers are still in training,"
were supposed to ensure by June 2006 that 100 percent of teachers in core
classes were highly qualified, but the mandate was delayed to June 2007 when
every state failed to make the deadline.